I was invited to play golf today by a good friend and client. We played at my home course in the Mpls area. On the 11th hole I was 100 yards from the green but couldn’t hit a wedge because of the over hanging branches of a towering oak tree. I stood behind the ball and looked at my options. I chose a 7 iron, electing to punch and run the ball under the limbs of the tree. As I prepared to play the shot I visualized exactly how hard I had to swing, where the ball would land and how far it had to role to get reasonably close to the pin. I stood behind the ball for at least 15 seconds and pictured the shot.
Everything meshed perfectly and the ball landed 8 feet from the pin. I missed the putt (no visualization) but made the par four. Unfortunately, I don’t execute that kind of visualization on every shot although I do try. No doubt that’s why I carry a 15 handicap vs. a 5.
As I walked to the next tee box the thought struck me how similar golf is to sales. WIth one caveat. I take golf seriously which means that I’m competitive regardless of whether I’m playing by myself or with other people.
1. Salespeople have goals (or should) and so do golfers. I set a goal for what I want to shoot during an 18 hole round.
2. Salespeople should visualize what they want in their life and they should visualize how they will make a sales call. Golfers try to visualize a shot before they swing. (At least that is what the pros say they’re doing when they stand behind the ball.)
3. Smart salespeople use a sales process when they sell. They do this so that every sales call is structured the same way. This tends to take the guess work out of how to execute a sales call. The golf swing is not a random act! The feet are in a certain position, the hands grip the club in a specific way, the body moves in certain ways.
4. After a sales call, professional salespeople evaluate the call and will critique the call based on the sales process they use. Did I open the call correctly? Did I listen more than talk? Did I identify the prospect’s PAIN? If the rep did not execute the call he or she can usually identify why and change his or her approach during the next sales call. Golfers do the same but typically at the conclusion of the game. That’s why you see professional golfers often head to the practice range after they have completed a round. They want to fix what they think they did wrong during the actual round.
5. Salespeople close the sale by either asking for the business or listening to the buyer say, “I’ll buy”. For amateur or pro golfers the “close” is literally closing out the competition by winning a match or tournament. And if you’re playing alone? The close can be a 16 foot breaking putt for a birdie.
6. I could follow this analogy (metaphor?) to the wee hours of the morning but I’ll end the comparisons here. Salespeople need to focus on their daily behaviors, how they sell, how they prospect, how they close, how they use time etc. Pro golfers had better focus or they’ll be playing for peanuts on a mini-tour. They focus on where they drive the ball, the break on the greens, what club to use out of high rough etc. If either the salesperson or the golfer lose focus they lose money.
The Final Thought: Success is the result of applying basic fundamentals.